My Weekly Grocery Shopping Routine

groceries

My grocery shopping process actually starts when I get home from the store and after I’ve put everything away.  I get out a new grocery list form (Franklin Covey Menu Planner or sometimes my own form – see download below) and put it on the refrigerator.  I immediately go ahead and start filling it out.  I include things like:

  •           Items I buy every week
  •           Items I know I’ll need next week
  •           Items I wasn’t able to get today
  •           Items I forgot  to get today

As the week progresses, I add to the list as I notice things we need.  I try to always have a back-up in the pantry for things we use often, like baggies, peanut butter, jelly, etc.  So when I open a new container, I put that item on the list.  Sometimes I’m super efficient and I’ll take a look in the cabinets and pantry and guess at what I’ll need the next week and go ahead and put it on the list.

This was what the list looked like on Friday - 3 days before I went grocery shopping.

This was what the list looked like on Friday – 3 days before I went grocery shopping.

My goal is to prepare my grocery list the day before I go grocery shopping but that doesn’t always happen.  Lately I’ve been finishing the list right before I go to the store.  I hate doing it that way but that’s the way it is right now.  The biggest problem with doing it at the last minute is that it doesn’t give me time to discover items I forgot to put on the list.  If I make the list the day before, I put it back on the refrigerator until grocery store day and I might think of a couple more items before I go.   But it is what it is.

The night before I go, I ask my husband if there’s anything he needs.  He nearly always says, “the usual”.

Making my list is a two-step process.  First I go through my cabinets and pantry and add anything I know I need.  Like salmon, tuna, milk, eggs, produce.  I buy those every week.  If I normally buy something every week but this week I don’t need it, I’ll go ahead and put on my list:  No eggs.  That way I know I didn’t forget – I don’t need eggs.  I write down all the staples.

Then I pull out my cookbooks and magazines and start looking for new recipes.  I used to pull recipes from Pinterest or other blogs but I don’t do that anymore.  Since I want to share the recipes with you, I want them to be recipes you haven’t already tried or seen.  I figure I’m safer going with the magazines and cookbooks.

I usually plan 5 meals – usually just dinner.  Sometimes we eat all those; sometimes we don’t.  It’s just my husband and I but I frequently cook for others, too.  I don’t always know how many will be at dinner.  And I don’t have any problem rearranging my plan.  I did that several times this past week.  You have to be flexible or you’ll go crazy!

When I had more time, I planned my meals by category:  Mexican, pasta, meat, soup/stew, Italian, etc.  Now that I’m more time challenged, I plan based on what’s going on.  I still try to have plenty of variety, though.  But I pull out my menu and look at what’s going on each day and then decide on a meal.  It doesn’t make sense to plan a labor intensive meal if I’m not going to have time to cook.  And on the days I have more time, I want to cook more.  So I plan based on my schedule and who will be eating with us.

I try to make four or five new recipes every week – at least.  I publish 3 recipes a week on the blog so I need to try at least that many.  More is better because not all recipes are blog worthy.  If we don’t love it, I don’t share it.

Menu for the week

This is the menu plan for the week.  I didn’t put anything on Monday because I had already planned 5 meals and I figured we’d end up eating leftovers or I’d make one of the recipes we missed.  We rarely need more than 5 meals.

After the meals are planned and the ingredients listed, I add everything up (I put prices next to the items as I put them on the list).   My current budget is $175 a week so if it’s more than that, I have to figure out what I can skip.  If I can’t skip anything, I try to find things that are cheaper than my estimate or maybe buy a smaller size.  Last week my list added up to $200.  But I couldn’t skip anything.  So I decided I’d make it work.  I went to Wal-mart and was really careful.  When I finished, it was $173.10.  Whew!  I always inflate the prices a little to account for tax and mistakes.

Grocery Receipt

Then I head to the store.  I don’t shop at multiple stores.  I used to do that when the kids were little – I went to Wal-mart (not a grocery at that time) for everything I could get there and then picked up the rest at the grocery store.  When Wal-mart started selling groceries, I did all my shopping there.  In recent years I’ve shopped at Wal-mart, Price Chopper and/or HyVee.  Lately, with a smaller budget, I’ve been finding myself at Wal-mart often.

I shop once a week and 99% of the time the same day every week.  I was at HyVee last week on a Tuesday (my new day) and the meat guy said:  “It’s not Wednesday”.  See – they know when I shop!  I’ve been going on Wednesday for a long time but my schedule changed and I had to switch to Tuesday.  I’d prefer to go on Thursday but that doesn’t work either.  You have to shop on the day that fits your schedule.  But planning is a lot easier if you go the same day every week.

I do not use coupons or shop the sales.  I try, when I can, to allow extra money in my budget so I can stock up on great sales.  But that doesn’t happen very often.  I try hard to shop smart.  I don’t mind buying off brands – or at least trying them.

I take my list with me to the store and mark things off as I buy them.  I’m pretty good about knowing where everything is so I don’t have to backtrack.  And I’m also good at sticking with the list – especially if I’m paying with cash!  It’s amazing the difference that one little step makes.

grocery list

Also on grocery store day I fill the car with gas.  The gas station is on the way so I fill it up.  I usually only have to every other week.  But having a set day to do it keeps it convenient for me and keeps me from running out of gas or having to make an emergency stop at an inconvenient time.  My goal is to keep my tank no less than half full.  My dad always said:  “It runs just as well off the top half.”

After shopping I head home and unload it all.  I’m really lucky in that I park in the garage and the garage is right off the kitchen with only three steps to get in.  I LOVE that!  This is the best arrangement I’ve ever had and I’ve definitely gotten spoiled.

from garage to kitchen

Once the food is put away, I usually sit for a few minutes and relax.  Grocery shopping is hard work!  And then start it all over again!

What’s your grocery shopping routine? Do you shop weekly, every other week or whenever you run out of food? And please let me know if you have questions about my routine.

Comments

  1. Kanalt17 says:

    I’ve very much like you when it comes to food shopping: I keep a back up of most items and add them to the list when I open a new container/jar/box/package; I usually go to the store very early Saturday morning (yes, this means I get up early to do it, but it allows me to go when there are fewer people there and I can get it out of the way so that I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend); before heading out, I plan my meals for the upcoming week, which allows me to prepare my list — everything I need for my meals will be on the list; I cross off items as I pick them up in the store; I go to only one store (unless I can’t find what I’m looking for or if I forget something); I don’t clip coupons, but I will use them if I have them; I also fill up on gas when out doing my errands (I can usually get through a week on one tank). Some (my family mostly) that I have such a process — but it works for me, keeps me on budget, and keeps me from buying junk I don’t need.

    Great post!

    • It does sound like we shop the same way. And it works well! I liked what you said about it keeping you “on budget and from buying junk you don’t need”. Me, too. It also helps me actually cook! I’m not very good at winging it. I need to have a plan and all the necessary ingredients. My husband and daughter are really good about looking in the refrigerator and pantry and pulling something together. Not me. Every time I come up with something I realize I’m missing an ingredient. You can only come up with so many substitutions! So shopping this way keeps me on track with preparing meals.

      And by the way, when I worked full-time, I went shopping on Saturday morning, too! My goal was to beat the crowds.

  2. I enjoyed reading your shopping routine, well actually, I enjoy reading your blog. I have been out of town for a few days but now that I am back to my normal routine, I need to catch up on what I missed. You have a very practical approach which is nice for me to see since I tend to over complicate things.
    For my grocery shopping, I keep of list of things needed on a sheet of paper hanging in the kitchen. When I get ready to shop I transfer that list to a form that I created that is in columns based on the lay out of the store where I do the majority of my shopping. This seems to have helped me from wandering back and forth in the store and it is really great if my hubby is shopping – things are easier for him to find since he is not as familiar with the store.

    • I used to organize my grocery list by grocery store aisles, too. That is a great way to do it! As long as you only shop at one store. Lately I’ve been switching around so that hasn’t worked. But it is a great idea.

      Thanks for reading the blog. And practical is what I’m going for. I never want to put fluff on the blog – only tried and true, practical stuff. You know how you read an article sometimes (hopefully not on my blog) and then think, “Wow. That was disappointing.” It’s either too vague or not something any real person would ever do. I don’t want to be like that.

  3. Peggy Leland says:

    I shop every Sunday morning my kids are in Sunday school for an hour and a half and I have nothing better to do during that time. I’ve gotten to like the cashiers that are there and their is almost always is someone to bag. I do try to shop the sales and use coupons for things I know I will use. I’m not a dedicated coupon user But happy when I am able to save a few dollars.

  4. As always, your information is so helpful! Since I’ve been following you on Twitter, I’ve been trying to plan my menus which means planning my grocery list, too. I used to have a list for basics and then decide on my meals at the grocery store based on what was on sale. That’s not a bad way, BUT I have found that having at least four meals planned has definitely helped keeping within my budget.
    Here’s how I use my list…
    I have a portion of my list for the basics and other needed items. Then, I have the rest of my list in 6 sections: 5 sections for meals and 1 section for my adult sons who still live at home. Their section has the usual frozen wings, frozen pizza, etc and anything else they mention that they would like. I put the meals from my menu plan in their little boxes with the needed ingredients. That doesn’t mean I might not change a meal once I get to the store and find a great sale!
    For the budget, I put a rounded up amount by each item and then add things up before I go to the store like you do. While I’m at the store, I tally things up in batches of $10 so I can see how much is in my cart. The menu thing has been a HUGE help for the budget – I can’t tell you how many time I walked halfway through the store and had already hit my allotted amount before!
    I like to shop at a smaller Kroger in our area, and I’ve gotten incredibly familiar with the store layout and the usual prices. Here’s where the value card comes in handy – I earn gas points when I buy groceries, and it goes straight to the card. They also send me coupons for items that I routinely purchase. I know it’s kind of like Big Brother, but this time it works!
    Happy Holidays!

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